Genesis 45:9-46:27 Israel’s Express Way

reconciled brothers… reunited father… demonstration of affection… uproar… thrilled… all-inclusive… favoritism… counterpoint… jocular… shock… too good… rallies… vision… rose up… happy ending…

Genesis 45:9-46:27

Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:

Having been reconciled with his brothers, Joseph’s chief desire is to be reunited with the father (‘ab) he is now convinced is still alive. He already has a place picked out down the street:

And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

and a good reason for him to come down to Egypt, rather than Joseph returning:

And there will I nourish thee; for yet [there are] five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.

Having settled that, he falls (naphal) on his beloved brother Benjamin and cries (bakah):

And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

Yet not just Benjamin, but all his brothers (‘ach):

Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Interesting phrasing: perhaps only after (‘achar) this demonstration of affection are his brothers able to get over their fear and surprise and actually talk (dabar) with him.

This turn of events creates quite an uproar (qowl) in Egyptian society:

And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

It says a lot about Joseph that not just Pharaoh, but also his slaves (‘ebed) look happily (`ayin yatab) on Joseph’s good fortune. Pharaoh pulls out all the stops, perhaps thrilled at being able to do something significant for the man who’s like a father to him:

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

And oh yeah, don’t bother to pack, this is an all-inclusive vacation:

Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt [is] yours.

Joseph agrees, and sends them on their way with presents, though he can’t resist favoring Benjamin:

all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred [pieces] of silver, and five changes of raiment.

I suppose the habit of favoritism dies hard, but at least he didn’t neglect them entirely; and somehow I don’t think they begrudged it this time. His present to his father is even more dramatic:

And to his father he sent after this [manner]; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

It makes a rather ironic counterpoint to Jacob’s gift to him; though this gift is born of joy, not fear. Even Joseph’s parting shot I take as more jocular than stern:

So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.

Though, perhaps Joseph should really have been worried about the shock to Jacob’s system at the news:

And told him, saying, Joseph [is] yet alive, and he [is] governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

Some news is just too good to believe (‘aman), perhaps especially for fathers. But Jacob rallies (chayah):

And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, [It is] enough; Joseph my son [is] yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Jacob doesn’t forget to thank God (‘eloyihm ) for this:

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

and perhaps also ask His advice, which he receives in a vision (mar’ah):

And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here [am] I.

and which is very positive:

And he said, I [am] God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up [again]: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

Interesting phrase about Joseph closing Jacob’s eyes, perhaps similar to the ideal of dying in one’s own bed surrounded by loved ones.

I note that while they obeyed Joseph’s injunction to come:

And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

they (perhaps wisely, perhaps skeptically) ignored Pharaoh’s injunction to abandon their stuff (r@kuwsh):

And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

Then follows a long list of all his descendants (zera`) who went, including a brief recapitulation of Judah’s folly:

And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.

Interestingly, Joseph’s children are also counted in the list of souls (nephesh):

And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, [were] two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, [were] threescore and ten

A nice round number, for a nice happy ending. Almost.


God, I am amazed at your goodness. Like Jacob, I often find myself speechless as you bless me in ways I could not even dare imagine. Teach me to call on you more often, that I might receive the dreams you have for me. Free me from the fear and unbelief that saps my strength and weakens my vision. Help me to leave behind all the petty goods of Canaan that I might enjoy the riches of the land you promise, and enter in to the fulness of family joy. Amen.

About the Title:

There’s several allusions in today’s title, but the primary one is to an expressway.